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The Vault

Slow Motion: Mauser 1914 Pocket Pistol

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Mauser’s classic early pocket pistol began as the model 1910, in .25 ACP caliber (6.35mm). It was then re-engineered for the larger .32 ACP (7.65mm) cartridge in 1914, and a final set of modifications too place in 1934. It is a simple blowback mechanism, with disassembly rather different from most other blowback pocket pistols.

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Slow Motion: Interesting Extractor Problem (Schwarzlose 1898)

Many people don’t realize that an extractor is not strictly necessary in many types of pistols – several early blowback models (notably the Bergmann 1896, as well as some later Spanish pistols) did not even have extractors. The residual chamber pressure after the bolt opens is often sufficient to push the case out of the [...]

Schwarzlose 1898 Pistol (Video)

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The model 1898 Schwarzlose was a self loading pistol definitely ahead of its time. It was simple, powerful (for the period; it was chambered for 7.63mm Mauser), and remarkably ergonomic. It used a short recoil, rotating bolt mechanism to operate, and very cleverly had one single spring which did the duties of primary recoil spring, [...]

Mystery “Rocking Block” Pistol at RIA

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There isn’t much I can say about this very unusual pistol, as I have no idea who made it or when. What I can tell is that it is a blowback action with a rather unique “rocking block” type of bolt and what appears to be a clock style coiled flat spring for the hammer. [...]

Gustloff Prototype Pistol at RIA

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Gustloff was a large industrial concern in Germany which made many different weapons for the military. In addition to these, its attempted to market a small-caliber pistol for police or SS use. This pistol used an alloy frame (with steel inserts for durability in crucial areas) and steel slide, with a simple blowback mechanism and [...]

Very Early Mars Pistol #4 at RIA

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Until the midle of the 20th century, the most powerful automatic pistol made was Sir Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax’s Mars pistol. With the .45 caliber version approaching the energy of a .45 Winchester Magnum, it was quite the accomplishment for a gun designed initially in 1898! Well, RIA has a very early example of the Mars – [...]

Japanese Inagaki and Sugiura Pistols at RIA

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The most common Japanese pistols used during World War II were the Type 14 and Type 94 Nambu designs, by a huge margin. However, there were a number of other handguns used in small numbers, and today we’re looking at two of those. The first is the Sugiura, essentially a copy of the Colt 1903 [...]

Schouboe .32ACP Pistol at RIA

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Before he adapted it to .45 caliber for US Army pistol trials, Jens Schouboe was building his pistol design in .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). It was a blowback action, hammer fired, and very quick and easy to field strip. The gun was reliable and well made, but just didn’t catch on in the market, and [...]

A Selection of Chinese Mystery Pistols at RIA

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During the 1920s and 1930s, a combination of civil wars and international arms embargoes led to a lot of domestic firearms production in China. The size and quality of manufacturing facilities varied widely – everything from massive factories established with European technical assistance to one-man shops only a step or two above being blacksmiths. The [...]

Collected Works of John Pedersen

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John Pedersen was one of the more prolific and successful gun designers in American history, having even been described by John Moses Browning as “the greatest gun designer in the world”. And yet, many people only know about Pedersen from his unsuccessful toggle-locked rifle or his WWI Pedersen Device that never saw action. In truth, [...]